How a Route Planner Can Streamline E-Commerce Operations

e-commerce strategies

With jam-packed delivery schedules, driver shortages, and impatient millennials who refuse to wait three days for their goods, it’s clear that running an e-commerce company is not an easy walk in the park.

It seems the “Amazon effect” is only growing stronger and stronger. Retail e-commerce sales are projected to surpass US$735 billion in 2023, according to Statista.com, an online market research and business intelligence portal.

With this growth, naturally, come several challenges — increased customer demands and tighter windows — that could burden your business if not dealt with effectively. For example, have you considered how your routes will change when more deliveries in a variety of locations are added to the mix?

Of course, it’s safe to say that the future of e-commerce looks very bright, but what does that mean for overall e-commerce operations? And how can a route planner help?

Meet Delivery Windows

Gone are the days of loyalty. Customers won’t wait around for their deliveries if your drivers don’t arrive at the stated time — or, worse, if you provide them with vaguely estimated delivery times.

These days, it’s the customers who run the show. They understand the possibilities that advanced technology provides your business, and they expect you to utilize them to the fullest. Their newer demands and expectations manifest themselves in numerous ways, but most importantly, they call for a high-quality experience. Essentially, this means ensuring that your accuracy, visibility and speed capabilities are up to par.

Customers want to know where their goods are, and that they are not wasting their own valuable time waiting for a delivery. Essentially, for the sake of your company’s bottom line, your drivers need to be meeting all delivery windows. If customers can’t get this experience from you, then they will have no problem turning to a business who can provide it — and that could spell a lot of trouble for your business.

Avoiding that outcome is very simple — all it takes is route optimization software. This software opens the doors to possibilities for your business. Aside from optimizing routes, by using the planner, you can guarantee that your drivers meet all delivery windows. You’ll be able to provide your customers with real-time updates on their delivery, effectively eliminating the problem of vague ETAs.

Ensure Driver Safety

Routes can be a real pain to plan, especially when you have new incoming orders every day — but that’s only half the battle. When it comes to driver safety, all e-commerce managers understand the delicate line between planned routes and driver behavior.

Your drivers need to be on the ball at all times. A surefire way to guarantee this is by removing as many distractions as possible. If you provide drivers with an easy-to-follow planned route with turn-by-turn directions, they won’t need to worry about focusing on where they are going. They can keep their attention on the road. They will be focused and ready for any obstacle or hazard they may face, thereby, staying safer.

Of course, sitting behind your desk, you don’t know what’s happening out on the road. That is why it is vital to your company’s bottom line that you constantly track and monitor drivers to stay on top of unexpected situations, delays, mistakes and accidents.

Routing software with vehicle GPS tracking will help you monitor changes and driver progress, and discover any unsafe driving habits that may lead to accidents. With this information, you’ll be better equipped to hold training sessions for your drivers, and help ensure that they are safe behind the wheel.

Reduce Human Error

All logistic managers understand the nightmare that planning routes manually can be. With various conditions to take into account — such as road, weather, accidents, cancellations and so on — manual route planning is not only mundane but also very time-consuming. Unfortunately, the work is not worth the effort, as there’s no doubt that a manually planned route will be vulnerable to human errors.

However, a route planner can provide you with an optimized route in mere minutes. It takes into consideration all the various conditions a driver may face to create a cost- and time-efficient route that will get your drivers to all planned destinations with time to spare — and all you have to do is input your addresses.

With planned routes, your drivers and vehicles will be on the road less. Your vehicles will have less wear-and-tear, and your drivers will be utilized in a smarter way, which also may help alleviate any driver shortage issues that may arise.

Even more, you’ll be able to ensure that your business can handle any order influxes while maintaining efficiency.

Improve Your Company’s Reputation

Have you heard the saying “all publicity is good publicity?” Well, it clearly doesn’t apply to the e-commerce industry. With the boom in online shopping, the competition is fierce, and all it takes is one bad review to send your customers packing.

Customers won’t wait if your drivers don’t show up at the expected time, which means not only that you may have to send out another rep — thereby, costing you more — but also that you can expect to hear about the customer’s displeasure.

This age of connectivity has introduced customers to countless ways of communicating with each other, connecting with brands, leaving reviews, and even becoming brand ambassadors. With that in mind, it’s clear that the Internet and social media have opened up opportunities for people to do what they love the most — that is, talk.

News spreads fast — especially news of bad service. When companies fail to keep up with an influx of orders and customer demands due to badly organized logistics, or when they simply fail to put in enough effort, customers are left with a bad taste in their mouth, and that can contribute to a bad reputation.

Customers will have no problem turning to social media to voice their issues — and potentially warn off other customers. However, with an optimized route, you easily can avoid this headache. Through optimization, you can guarantee that your drivers will arrive at all planned destinations with time to spare, that customer satisfaction will increase with updated ETAs, and that your drivers will make more deliveries every day.

If you make sure your operation runs as smoothly as possible, your satisfied customers may become your brand ambassadors.

Final Takeaways

All in all, when it comes to e-commerce operations, automation is the way to go. With the “Amazon effect” in full bloom and in light of the impatience of millennials, the pressure is on to get all goods delivered on time.

Optimized delivery routes can provide your e-commerce business with a vast number of benefits. Because it can swiftly and easily optimize your routes and enable you to meet delivery windows, monitor driver activity, cuts costs and more, investing in a route planner is a no-brainer.

Every e-commerce business is different, but there is no doubt that route planning software will have an immense effect on operations and keep your business strong and competitive.

Inbal Axelrod is cofounder and CMO of MyRouteOnline, a multiple stop route planner that helps make businesses more efficient through route optimization. An optimized route makes it possible to arrive at planned destinations at the expected time, avoiding backtracking and time-wasting. Businesses will be able to please more customers, while saving time and money along the way.

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